1988 cold case solved after killer identified through DNA test from family

A 1988 Georgia cold-case was solved after the killer was identified through a DNA test.
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 9:24 AM AKDT
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ATLANTA (WGCL/Gray News) - Authorities in Georgia have solved a cold case from 1988 after they used newly-uncovered genetic evidence to find out who was responsible.

They believe it may be the first time that DNA technology identified both the victim and the killer in a single cold case, WGCL reports.

Stacey Chahorski was just 19 years old when she was killed. Her body was found along the highway in Dade County, not far from the Alabama-Georgia border.

For the last 33 years, investigators didn’t know much more about the case, including the identities of both her and her killer.

Decades later, Chahorski’s family finally got some answers in the form of new genealogy DNA testing. The technology is used to positively identify a person’s DNA.

“We are standing here today, almost 34 years later, to say we have finally identified Stacey Chahorski’s killer,” Ken Farley, FBI Atlanta special agent in charge, said.

Police said the killer has been identified as Hank Wise. Investigators said they matched a living family member’s DNA to his.

Wise was a trucker whose route crossed through the Southeast and whose DNA was also found at the scene. He had a criminal history in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, according to WGCL.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation are glad they persisted. The GBI special agent in charge, Joe Montgomery, said he talked to the victim’s mother to tell her they’ve identified her daughter’s killer.

“She, of course, was upset,” he said. “But she was very thankful to everybody that I mentioned and was just overwhelmed.”

Investigators said Wise is no longer alive and that he died in a fiery vehicle accident in 1999.

But now, at least, the family has some peace that their daughter’s killer is no longer roaming free.

“Let this serve as a warning to every murderer, rapist, and violent offender out there,” Farley said. “The FBI and our partners will not give up. It may take years or even decades, but we continually seek justice for victims and their families.”